Busy Time for U.S. Department of Transportation 2010 National Distracted Driving Summit and Child Passenger Safety Week

The 2010 National Distracted Driving Summit began this past Tuesday, September 21. This week (September 19-25) is Child Passenger Safety Week. Just prior to the Distracted Driving Summit, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that distracted driving-related crashes claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 traffic injuries across the U.S. in 2009.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 the same percentage as in 2008. Transportation Secretary LaHood also announced new anti-distracted driving regulations for drivers transporting hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers, and rail operators, and that he is initiating a new rulemaking to prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting while transporting hazardous materials.

In addition, two rules proposed at last years summit have now become the law of the land. Rules banning commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job and restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the drivers seat have been posted today.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also released interim data from its pilot enforcement programs currently underway in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. Dubbed Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other, the year-long pilot campaigns were launched in April to test whether increased law enforcement efforts combined with public service announcements can succeed in getting distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

During two week-long periods of stepped up enforcement to date, police in Hartford have written approximately 4,956 tickets and Syracuse police have issued 4,446 tickets for violations involving drivers talking or texting on cell phones. Based upon these observations and surveys made before and after these enforcement efforts, hand-held cell phone use has dropped 56 percent in Hartford and 38 percent in Syracuse to date. Texting while driving has declined 68 percent in Hartford and 42 percent in Syracuse. Child Passenger Safety Week culminates in National Seat Check day on Saturday, September 25. Free child seat inspections of child safety seats will be available at child safety seat inspection stations. Certified technicians will inspect your child safety seat and show you how to correctly install and use it.

In addition, September 17, 2010 was National Two-Second Turnoff Day. That day young drivers nationwide pledged to take two seconds to turn off their cell phones and other wireless devices before getting behind the wheel to drive. According to a recent survey by AAA and Seventeen, 86 percent of teen drivers have driven while distracted, even though 84 percent of teen drivers know its dangerous.

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